Archive for October, 2009

ferris wheel postcard

1900 French Ferris Wheel Antique Postcard

La Grande Roue de Paris must have been an awe inspiring sight.  I look at the antique postcard to the right and wonder how it didn’t topple over.  It was so big.  This Ferris wheel was built for the Exposition Universelle of 1900 world’s fair in Paris, France and had a then world record diameter of 100 meters.  If you didn’t comprehend this Ferris wheel’s size from the diameter, the passenger car’s use as homes for French families in areas devastated by the World War (after demolition in 1920) should help.

This week’s bit of trivia:

Part of the Exposition Universelle of 1900 was the Second Olympic Games. These games marked the first participation by female athletes in the Olympics. 

Note:  Marie over at The French Factrice blog is hosting Postcard Friendship Fridays.  Hop on over to Marie’s and check out all the postcard enthusiasts sharing this week.

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Suplee Needle Trade CardI found out something very cool.  The inventor of the easily threaded sewing needle advertised on this die-cut fan Victorian trade card was a woman!  I had assumed there were no women inventors at the turn of the century (how backwards thinking of me).  Her name was Hannah G. Suplee, wife of a sewing machine salesman.






Impractical Female Occupation

Hannah was an inventor during a time when such an occupation was considered impractical for a woman.  You see, inventions by women didn’t generally pay that well.  Royalties and profits for many women weren’t realized.  That is because they either didn’t file patents for fear of being viewed a failure if it was known a women was the brains behind the invention, or they sold it outright and cheap to a man who took advantage of them.  Women that did file patents did so under their male lawyer’s name.  Geez, the modern day women’s activist would have a field day with this situation.

Hannah’s Inventions

Hannah was one that did file patents, but under her male lawyer’s name.  I was able to find listings for four of her patents:

  • Easily Threaded Sewing Machine Needle, no. 94924 granted on Sept. 11th, 1869
  • Improvement in Sewing Machines (together with John H. Mooney), no. 115,656 granted on June 6th, 1871
  • Pattern and Lining for Garments, no. 250,998 granted on Dec. 13th, 1881
  • Abdominal Supporter, no. 500,356 granted on June 27th, 1893

Hannah exhibited her inventions at the 1876 Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia.  A few women inventors came away from that exposition an outstanding success.  I couldn’t find out if Hannah was one of those women.  Hopefully she made enough money off her inventions to escape the dire economic situation many women inventors faced. 

You can find many more Victorian trade cards with great graphics in my store, Remember When Vintage Postcards.

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1909 Antique Postcard of Cupid Mailing a Heart
1909 Antique Postcard of Cupid Mailing a Heart

It’s always fun to learn an unimportant bit of trivia, remember it, and then drag it out at opportune times.

This week’s bit of trivia: 

Cupid’s power was supposedly greater than his mother’s (Venus), and included dominion over the dead in Hades.

It’s hard to believe such an angelic looking creature, associated with love, had such a power over something so dark and feared.


Note: Marie over at The French Factrice blog is hosting Postcard Friendship Fridays. Have some postcards you want to share? Hop over to Marie’s and check out all the folks sharing this week.

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1911 Large Letter Postcard to Grandpa

1911 Large Letter Postcard to Grandpa

It’s been awhile since I blogged about a postcard message.  This one makes me very happy I didn’t live around the turn of the century.

My Dear Grandpa & Grandma.  How are you.  we are all well.  Papa killed by pigon, and I pulled one of my teeth monday morning.  Come over when you can.  From Floyd. 

We haven’t heard from Myers, so I am going to white wash the bedroom and maybe the kitchen.  This week I have the carpets all up.  Pearl.

I absolutely hate housework!  Major Yuk.  Having to put up all the carpets (translation, clean them) constitutes housework.  Thank God for today’s carpet cleaning services.

Wonder why Papa killed his son’s pigeon?

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vintage postcard published by Pink of Perfection, no. 4802

vintage postcard published by Pink of Perfection, no. 4802

Hummm.  This is a strange one.  Santa Claus is not only in a motor boat, but riding it in GREEN water!  It probably matched the muted colors on this vintage Christmas postcard better than blue.  Still, a motor boat is quite unusual on a postcard.  I decided to look into the various modes of Santa Claus transportation. 

Santa’s First Mode of Transportation

Many attribute Santa Claus’ beginnings to a 4th century bishop in Turkey.  This bishop, Saint Nicholas, walked when placing presents in children’s shoes.  As his legend grew, so did the kids to be reached with presents.  Saint Nicholas’ mode of transportation had to change to answer the question, “How does Santa deliver presents to all the children in one night?”  Walking would not answer this.

Early Santa Transportation in America

The Dutch of New Amsterdam (New York) brought Sinter Klaas (Saint Nicholas) to America via a legend that included him riding a white horse.  In Washington Irving’s 1809 book, A History of New York, he also used a horse.  The book was revised in 1812 to show Saint Nicholas riding over the trees in a wagon.

Other Odd Santa Transportation

The Mailick green Santa Claus from my Antique Postcard Artist Alfred Mailick – Odd Subject blog post is another example of odd transportation (donkey) for Santa Claus.  I was not able to find a definitive answer as to when the sleigh began to appear. 

Note:  anytime you find Santa Claus using transportation other than a sleigh pulled by reindeer on a postcard, the value will go up.  How much will depend on the mode of transportation and rarity, but can range from $5-10. 

Feel free to look at other Santa Claus postcards from my personal collection on my web store’s gallery page.

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Drunken New Year Postcard

1908 German New Year Postcard, Morning After Funny Feeling

Wow, my daughter’s 21.  I officially feel old.  How come?  My daughter’s the one who turned 21.  Anyway, she has decided she wants me to take her bowling.  The bowling alley has a bar, so she’ll be able to legally order a drink. I’m the designated driver.  Her drinking should make for an interesting time bowling.  I’ll have to bring my camera.

This still didn’t seem like a fitting tribute to her entrance into adulthood, so I searched on-line for ways to celebrate birthdays.  OK, so I have no imagination.  I run two on-line postcard stores and work a full-time job.  Give me a break.  What I found had me laughing my head off.

There’s a blog about toilet birthdays.  Really.  This blog actually celebrates the birthdays of various toilets (complete with pictures)!  Geez, the things one finds on the internet these days, lol.  The first three paragraphs of the tip page are hilarious.  If curious, click this.  I’ll have to have my daughter read it when she comes home from partying with her first hangover (like the man in the above antique New Year postcard).  I wonder if she’ll be able to follow the directions at the beginning of the tip page.  Again, I’ll have to have my camera ready.  By the way, my toilet’s birthday is 07/22/04.

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Ligget & Myers Tobacco Trade CardOne tends to learn a lot when digging into the history behind a vintage postcard, or Victorian trade card.  In this case, I learned about the break-up of a monopoly that had me remembering the break-up of Ma Bell (telephone) 25 years ago. 


Biggest Plug Chewing Tobacco Producer

(L&M) of St. Louis was started by John Liggett (who’s grandfather’s New Jersey snuff mill was burnt down by British soldiers) and George Smith Myers in 1873.  By 1885, it had become the biggest producer of plug chewing tobacco in the world.

American Tobacco Company Monopoly Formed

Meanwhile, the Bull Durham Tobacco Company grew into the leading cigarette maker (and chief competitor of L&M) in the US.  James B. Duke of Durham Tobacco, created the American Tobacco Company from five leading cigarette companies.  After John Liggett died in 1897, L&M became part of the ATC.  Makes me wonder what John Liggett’s position on the formation of the ATC was if James Duke couldn’t obtain L&M until after John’s death.

ATC Monopoly Broken Up

A little over 10 years later, the ATC ran afoul of The Supreme Court.  It found ATC guilty of violating the Sherman Antitrust Act (an act designed to prevent business monopolies) in 1911. As a result, the ATC was divided into four companies: the American Tobacco Company, Liggett & Myers Tobacco, P. Lorillard, and R.J. Reynolds (name sound familiar?).  L&M was on it’s own again.

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